An excerpt from my upcoming book,
Stream of Consciousness: A Tail of Male Infertility, Medicine, Life, & The New York Thruway (A Real Cock & Ball Story)
I find I have to remind myself to breath when looking under the microscope at glass slides that, in all probability, will contain very few, if any, sperm. Each slide can take 20 minutes or more to look out and I have 24 of them in total get through. For this reason, I like to schedule testicular mapping procedures late in the afternoon, after I have finished seeing patients. I like--I need--to be 100% focused.
I go in a systematic fashion through each slide, left to right then down then right to left; kind of like a type writer without a functioning carriage return. I hold my breath with each turn of the wrist to move the microscope stage, hoping, pleading, praying, that I'll see a sperm. Just one will be sufficient. I want it, I think, as much as Kathryn and Rhys do.
I start to hallucinate:
Is that a sperm tail?
I think I see a head.
There, what is that? No, that is nothing. Fuck.
With each completed slide that is devoid of a sperm, my heart sinks and my mood darkens.
My confidence withers.
Is it me? Am I doing this correctly? Can I trust the results?
Of course you can. You know how to do this. You have had successes in the past. You got this, motherfucker. You da man!
I argue with myself, self loathing and boasting simultaneously.
Maybe next time I do one of these friggin things I'll bring my shrink into the lab with me.
Minutes pass. I lose track of time.
Slide 1 then slide 2 then slide 3 and on and on and on.
The natural tendency is blow through the later slides if the earlier ones did not have sperm, sensing futility in the endeavor.
Resist that temptation.
Sperm production is not uniform and can take place anywhere, even on slide 24.
Keep going. One more slide. Come on. . .
You have just read an excerpt from my upcoming book, due out in May 2020. If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to reach out to me.